After the disaster that was Tim Burton & Mark Wahlberg’s reboot of Planet of the Apes, I told myself to just abandon all hope that the franchise could ever do better than the original film. And so when I heard about Rise of the Planet of the Apes I had no intention of learning more about it but I knew I was gonna watch it anyway but with the same level of interest as when I watch B-rated horror movies (not a lot). But for clarification, this movie is actually not a reboot, nor is it a prequel rather it’s something of a unique take on the series; it’s actually a pre-boot. See, they’re starting over but with an alternate reality different from the timeline of the original film. This is kind of the same technique that they did with Star Trek and that turned out to be a really good choice so hopefully it works for Apes as well.
This movie has an advantage over any previous iteration of films based on the original novel, technology! The CGI was really amazing in this film and I found myself really awestruck a certain scenes where the interaction between apes and the environment was so believable. I could keep talking about the tech involved in making this movie and how awesome it is but I suggest that you watch the video link below for a better explanation.
Now that we’ve gotten the CGI discussion out of the way let’s focus on the film. There’s actually two films intertwined together in Apes; 1) the story of a mad scientist who is so consumed by his passion/emotions that it clouds his judgement,2) the rise of the real lead character of the film Caesar (the lead Ape played by the same dude that played Gollum, Andy Serkis). Admittedly categorizing the film into two subplots is a bit unfair because there are several layers in each of them so that we can all take away something different after watching the film (e.g. the film also touches upon the issue of animal and human testing).
There is nothing special about the first thing I mentioned, we’ve all seen that story before although it’s great that this particular film decided to cast really great actors James Franco (scientist- Will Rodman) & John Lithgow (dad-Charles Rodman). Even the chick from Slumdog Millionaire (Freida Pinto) did a pretty good job as the girlfriend. All of these actors give great performances that make the story mesh well with the second thing that I mentioned, the most important part of the movie: Caesar’s story. The filmmakers definitely did their research because I felt that they drew inspiration from another film (documentary) called project NIM. And because they did that, the story just seems more grounded and real even though there are sci-fi elements peppered into it. The relationship between Will and his ‘pet’ Caesar felt real and convincing. It’s so integral to the film that if they had messed it up 3 quarters of the film would be ruined as well. Even side characters like Dodge (played by Draco from Harry Potter) also give convincing performances, also he’s still a douche!
But enough about these puny humans, let’s talk about the Apes!! As I mentioned earlier the filmmakers did a great job at making these things look real and Caesar’s story is really interesting from beginning to end. Most of the credit goes to Andy Serkis because you can put as much tech into motion capture mumbo jumbo but if you’re actor Is sloppy then it will still suck. Thankfully his performance was convincing, inspired and more importantly consistently good throughout the whole film(I guess having played King Kong in 2005 really helped as well). Most of the humor also comes from the Apes, although some scenes came off as funny even though that wasn’t clearly the intention of the director. And that was the danger that this film had to face, it actually treads the line of being believable and corny several times especially when you take into account how people could’ve just killed the apes with guns and have the whole problem dealt with right away. Thankfully it succeeds in the former rather than the later through tactics that the apes came up with to overcome the human’s superior arsenal. There was one small inconsistency though during the film’s final action sequence was that some Ape’s suddenly became smart even though they weren’t exposed to the magic serum (113).
I wouldn’t go so far as to rate this film as the best movie of the summer but it’s definitely one of the biggest surprises this year. I found it hard to relate to any particular character but I guess that’s a good thing; both apes and humans have good & bad guys so you end up cheering for some and hating the rest. I doubt this film is for everyone but I think you could at least give it a shot who knows maybe you’ll end up crying like the dude that was in front of me at the cinema.